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Staff Spotlight: Amanda Read, Mother Love Coordinator

22 Jul

Our July Staff Spotlight features Amanda Read, MotherLove Coordinator. Amanda is new to the YWCA and to Asheville, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her part of our YWCA team & community.image1

How long have you lived in Asheville? I moved to Asheville in May, so I’m really new to town. Previously, I lived in Columbia, SC where I completed my Masters in Social Work at the University of South Carolina. I grew up in Greensboro, NC.

How long have you been at the YW? My first day at the YWCA was May 30th, so I have been here for just a little over a month.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? I love the culture here at the YWCA. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that values the community served and its staff members. I like knowing that I am working for a purpose that will benefit peoples’ lives. It is also a perk to come to work every day and see people being active and working out. It motivates me to get moving for my own health and wellness.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to spend time with my family and friends. On the weekends, I like to watch live music. I will often drag a family member or friend to see a show with me regardless of the musical genre—I listen to anything from Hip-Hop, Indie, Grunge, R&B, Classical and Turkish music.

People would be surprised if they knew I… Love to watch Chinese and Thai soap operas. I find the acting and storylines more entertaining than American television. If asked, I will shamelessly recommend amazing dramas to watch on a rainy day.

A conversation between Beth Maczka & Joshua McClure

29 Jun

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On a mission to serve school age children: Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, recently sat down with Joshua McClure, the Director of our Primary Enrichment Program.

BM: Tell me a little about your background and why you were interested in working at the YWCA?

JM: I’ve been working with kids for 11 years now. As an African-American man, I want to be a positive role model for youth in the community.  I grew up at the YWCA – taking swim lessons, participating in after school and hanging out with my grandmother. The YWCA is welcoming and accepting. I think the mission speaks volumes, and it is important to me, but also coming here feels like home.

BM: How does your program relate to the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and eliminating racism?

JM: We’ve always been the voice and resource for single parents. They trust our staff and many have been a part of the YWCA since their kids were 6 weeks old. The thing that I hear from parents the most is that the counselors really care about the kids, as if they were their own, like family.  As it pertains to the child care and voucher crisis in our community – these parents want to continue all the way through the Primary Enrichment Program. They don’t want to leave.

BM: What do you think makes our After School and Summer Camp unique?

JM: First of all, we are diverse. Secondly, we have programming that will help meet all the different needs of our kids. We are striving to be more than just a “babysitter,” by having  a greater focus on bridging education gaps during the school year and combating summer learning loss during camp. The homework help we offer is a huge benefit to our kids and also their parents. The [Big Brothers/Big Sisters] mentoring partnership program will also help give kids a voice and help develop social skills – especially our shy and less engaged youth. The kids are also really enjoying other partnerships we are bringing into our program, including Girl Scouts, tennis and ABYSA soccer. 

BM: What is your approach and vision for the Primary Enrichment Program?

JM: I want to be involved. Set a new dynamic. Improve the whole ‘feel’ of the program. Make people feel welcome and engaged – the staff, the youth and the parents.

It is important that they [the kids] see me as more than just an authority figure. I try once a week to spend time in each room helping with homework or playing games. I want to show the kids that I care. I really want to be involved. And they love the time we spend together – they remember the games we have played.

I look forward to the program blossoming with more people knowing about us…parents wanting to do more within the program. Cross promotion between After School, Spring Break, and Summer Camp. We are striving to help with education, enrichment, and health & wellness. I want it to be viewed as a great program in our community.

BM: What would people be surprised if they knew about you?

JM: One of my legs is longer than the other.

BM: You’re such a great dancer & teach our popular Hip Hop Cardio classes! That sure hasn’t slowed you down, has it!?

JM: Nope!

Spotlight On: Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator

5 May

 

Our Staff Spotlight features Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator. Melinda brings a rich culinary background and a New York state of mind to the YWCA team. Here is more about Melinda:Melinda

How Long have you lived in Asheville? My husband and I moved to Asheville last May from Brooklyn, NY.

How long have you been at the YWCA? I started at the YWCA in February of this year, as the Kitchen Manager, and became the Nutrition Coordinator officially in March. My background is in culinary, and in this position I’m able to try different aspects outside of the kitchen, providing nutritional and health education opportunities. I’m thankful to the YW for giving me the opportunity to grow, and it speaks a lot about this organization.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? One of my favorite things is how the YWCA truly lives up to its mission – how everyone here is working toward eliminating racism and empowering women. I get the opportunity to teach children how to eat healthy at a young age, so they have the tools to be better adults. That’s a great feeling. All the staff here are great, and there’s always someone to give you a helping hand. It’s truly a community here. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? I’ve been hiking a lot, and I love it! I never was a nature person living in the city, but since moving here I have a new-found appreciation for nature. My five-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Cody, loves it too! 

People would be surprised if they knew I…  put on Spanish music every night, Salsa and Merengue, and just dance to it. It’s a form of meditation for me! It helps with stress and to feel better about everything. 

To learn more about the YWCA and ways to get involved visit our website, or call us at 828-254-7206. 

April is Stand Against Racism Month

11 Apr

SAR_Logo_RGBStand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.  This year, our theme is On A Mission for Girls of Color! We will amplify the national discussion about the impacts of institutional and structural racism on the lives of girls of color.

Last year, nearly 750 sites in 44 states participated. We are proud that Asheville-Buncombe County is one of the most active Stand locations with over 75 participating sites and 29 different public events in 2015.

A-B Tech Stand

Panel discussion featuring: Stephen Smith, Philip Cooper, Vanessa James, Brent Bailey and Dana Bartlett

This year’s Stand is sure to be just as successful with several exciting events taking place throughout the community. Our kickoff off event took place last Thursday, April 7th, at A-B Tech Community College. This event titled, Ban the Box: Promote Employment Fairness, featured two panel discussions that explored efforts to remove the box that asks about criminal records from employment applications.

Here is a list of upcoming Stand events in April:

  • Pack’s Tavern will Stand Against Racism by hosting Pack’s Day on Monday, April 18th, from 11 am – 11 pm. 10% of all proceeds from this day will benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Pour Taproom will take a Stand by donating 10% of all proceeds from Thursday, April 21st, 6 pm – 9 pm to benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Africa Healing Exchange will host a multicultural celebration and benefit to raise awareness and support trauma healing on Thursday April 21st, from 6-9:30  pm at White Horse Black Mountain. This event will feature grammy-nominated singer Laura Reed, with notable guest performers including African-inspired dancers, artists and speakers. African cuisine provided by Kente Kitchen (cash purchase); full bar; vendors featuring coffee, tea and artisan products for sale from Rwanda.
  • The Asheville Chamber of Commerce is joining with the Buncombe County Government, YWCA of Asheville and Mission Health to take a Stand Against Racism by helping businesses better understand how bias shows up in the workplace. Join Lisa Eby and Lakesha McDay on Thursday, April 28th, 11:30 am – 1 pm for “Grey Matter: Understanding the Brain and Bias”. Have you ever wondered where our biases come from? This session will give you insight into the “grey matter”, the brain, and you will learn that we are ALL wired to be biased! Through an interactive workshop, you will see how bias shows up in each of us and leave with concrete steps to minimize the effects of bias in you and your workplace, making Asheville a more inclusive community.
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville Buncombe County and the Stephens-Lee Alumni Association are co-sponsoring a Stand Against Racism event on Friday, April 29th, 12 pm – 2 pm at the Stephens Lee Center. This program will focus on African American educators that have paved the way for people of color. The panel discussion will discuss the impact of segregation in the Asheville School system, integration, highlight African American educators, and discuss the role that the Stephens-Lee High School played in the education of African Americans.
  • Jubilee! Community will screen the movie “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity ” and host a round table discussion on Friday April 29th from 6:30-8:30 pm. The film invites America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity, features moving stories from racial justice leaders including Amer Ahmed, Michael Benitez, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, Joy DeGruy, Ericka Huggins, Humaira Jackson, Yuko Kodama, Peggy McIntosh, Rinku Sen, Tilman Smith and Tim Wise.
  • Black Mountain Stand Against Racism will host a public event at White Horse Black Mountain on Sunday, May 1st from 2:30-4:30 pm. Award-winning performer Kat Williams, joined by acclaimed musician, author and speaker David LaMotte, will talk & sing about ways to “Stand Against Racism”. Also participating will be Rev. Hilario Cisneros of La Capilla de Santa Maria in Hendersonville, and Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, who pioneered online postings of actual slave-ownership records. The event will be interspersed with Kat’s inimitable music. Tickets are $10 or $8 for students under 21; available online at http://www.whitehorseblackmountain.com or call (828) 669-0816, with net proceeds going to Kat’s fund for young black men and women.
  • The YWCA of Asheville will take a Stand Against Racism through a series of Racial Justice Workshops for staff, board and volunteers. The Racial Justice Workshops will be held in the Multipurpose Room on the following dates: Monday, April 25, 6 – 7:30 pm, Tuesday, April 26, 6 – 7:30 pm, and Friday, April 29, 12 pm – 1:30 pm. The goals of the Racial Justice Workshop are to learn shared language and concepts related to racial justice, become familiar with the YWCA’s racial justice framework, and grow more comfortable talking about race and racism.

For more information about these events and a full list of Stand Against Racism events visit StandAgainstRacism.org

A-Team Stand SelfieWe encourage you to take a Stand Against Racism by participating in one of these community events, organizing an event of your own, or simply dining out at Pack’s Tavern or having a beer at Pour Taproom to support the YWCA.

Any group of any size can become a participating site of the Stand Against Racism. Participating can be as simple as hanging a poster or wearing your “Stand Against Racism” t-shirt and tagging the YWCA of Asheville as part of our Stand Selfie Campaign. Or you can host a public event, rally or day of service. No matter what shape the “stand” takes in each participating site, you can unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: We are on a mission to eliminate racism.

If you would like more information about Stand Against Racism or are interested in becoming a participating site, please contact Gerry Leonard at 828-254-2706, ext. 219 or gleonard@ywcaofasheville.org.

Spotlight On: Stephanie Tullos, YWCA Development Coordinator

10 Mar

Picture1Stephanie Tullos, Development Coordinator, has hit the ground running since joining our team in January—bringing excitement, positivity and creativity to the YWCA.

Here’s more about Stephanie:

How long have you lived in Asheville? I’ve been here since August 2008. I moved here from Charlotte to go to UNC-Asheville.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? I really like that we have an all female Board of Directors. I like working for an organization that is led by women. I also like that there is a lot of diversity here—I think it’s more representative of the community of Asheville than any other place I’ve worked. And I love getting to see all the cute babies every day!

What do you like to do in your spare time? I spend a lot of time with my family, I’m one of five children. We are spread in and around Charlotte, but we try and get together for every birthday and holiday. I’m a bit of a homebody—I just moved into a new house in Woodfin, so I spend a lot of time just enjoying my new space.

People would be surprised if they knew I… attended a public arts school for seven years. I studied visual art, but I love the performing arts—dance, music and theatre. I also enjoy musicals—my favorites are “Chicago” and “Grease”.

The YWCA of Asheville hosts Empower Hour tours the first and third Tuesdays of every month, where you will learn firsthand the YWCA’s work to empower women, eliminate racism, promote health and nurture children. To learn more or to make a reservation, contact Stephanie Tullos at stullos@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206, ext. 207.

Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Cooking Demo

22 Feb

By Leah Berger-Singer, Preventive Health Coordinator

As you walked through the hallways of the YWCA on February 11th, you might have smelled something that reminded you of your family’s cooking – the smell of garlic and onion sizzling in a pan of olive oil. The delicious smell was coming from the Multipurpose Room where twelve participants from the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program gathered for a Cooking Demonstration led by Cathy Hohenstein, Registered Dietitian for NC Cooperative Extension, and her Intern Clara.

126Before the program began, we chopped and peeled vegetables to prep for the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup that would be served to the group. As participants arrived to the Cooking Demo, they were given handouts on a variety of topics related to soups and chili ranging from ways to soak and cook dried beans to a list of healthy soup toppings. Next, participants were given a sample of both the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup and were even able to try some of those healthy soup toppings, such as Greek yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion.

Cathy explained the health benefits of using soaked beans for soup recipes rather than canned beans (no sodium or preservatives!) and provided different techniques and prep options. Gene Collington, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “I enjoyed it because it shows you what you can do with beans. You can make beans in different ways other than just dried or cooked beans.” Cathy also gave other helpful kitchen tips. Did you know you can make a broth just by boiling vegetables?

127Throughout the Cooking Demo, Cathy showed participants how to make the White Bean Soup step-by-step. Participants were delighted to watch her make something as healthy, fresh and delicious as this soup was. Walter Robertson, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “The structure of the class was very well put together. It was informative, informal, and a relaxed atmosphere. She didn’t rush through it and she explained everything.”

128This Cooking Demonstration is just one example of the various workshops we have in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program. We have workshops such as Grocery Store Tours, Farmers Market Tours, and other Cooking Demos. Participants also have the opportunity to learn something new and health-related in our Weekly Support Group. Don’t just take my word on the program, Walter said, “It’s very beneficial. We get something out of it, and the discussion doesn’t just end after the program”. This is a great example of how Cooking Demos, Support Group, and other workshops provided in the program are learning experiences that start in the YWCA, but they expand outside of our walls and continue into the homes of the participants in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program.

To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

 

MLK Day of Service

26 Jan

By Gerry Leonard, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

019 - CopyOn January 16, 2016 the YWCA of Asheville hosted volunteers from the UNC-Asheville Key Center as part of our annual MLK Day of Service. To honor and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the YWCA partners with volunteers from local colleges to work with our Primary Enrichment (formerly the School Age program) students to create posters to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his lasting impact on our society and the YW’s continued work of eliminating racism.

16 volunteers from UNC-Asheville spent their day at the YWCA – instead of taking the day off – and gave back, by giving their time to make a difference in a kid’s life. Volunteers worked 1-on-1 with our Primary Enrichment students, creating posters highlighted with images of MLK and inspirational quotes – along with glitter, feathers and other creative ways children decorate posters.

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This was not only a day of arts and crafts, but a wonderful opportunity for the Primary Enrichment students, K – 5, to engage with college students to understand the role MLK plays in all of our lives and how his legacy continues on. Some of the conversations I heard began with, “MLK had a dream, what is your dream”? The response from our YW kids ranged from grand dreams of flying in outer space or becoming President to more practical responses of wanting everyone to love each other. This in many ways encapsulates the true spirit of what MLK Day is all about: Honoring MLK and continuing to dream of equity and peace, while believing that you can achieve anything you want.

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The YWCA MLK Day of Service is as much of a service as it is enrichment. Many of the volunteers take this time to share with the Primary Enrichment students what their major is, and what they want to do when after college. This is particularly enriching as many of the children in the Primary Enrichment program come from low-income families where their parents are working full-time, often at multiple jobs. For the kids to hear first-hand from students about what college is like provides such a profound impact on their lives. So, as our young students continue to dream of being an astronaut and running for President, these conversations could very well propel them onward to making their dream a reality.

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We’re always looking for committed volunteers! Learn more at www.ywcaofasheville.org/volunteer